Monday 10 September 2018

Solberg gives insight into his health over the passed 12 months.

PHOTO CREDIT: PSRX Volkswagen Sweden
Two-time FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg has revealed that he was diagnosed with a lung disease "Sarkoidose" 12 months ago.

Solberg's condition was discovered when he was hospitalized following a first-corner collision with Jānis Baumanis in the semi-finals in Latvia, where he broke two ribs and his collarbone. He made an exceptional recovery and was cleared to race 13 days after the crash. 

The Norweigen rose to one of the biggest physical challenges of his career at the World RX of Germany and, after being top qualifier and winning his semi-final, he just missed a podium in the final and finished fourth.

“I think everybody knows I’m somebody who has always had a lot of energy. I know myself that I just can’t keep still, I always have to be busy and doing something," said Solberg.

“A while ago, that changed and I started to feel really tired. Looking back, it was getting worse, but I didn’t really notice it so much. Then I had the accident this time last year in Riga."

"I have a lot to thank that accident for; the x-rays showed there was a problem with one of my lungs. There’s a very long name for the condition, but basically I was producing too much iron." 

After a series of tests Solberg was diagnosed with "Sarkoidose", and he was issued with medication to combat the lung disease. 

"I’ve noticed some changes with my eyes, my face and I started shaking," he said, before explaining that it has been a quite a scary time, but during a race weekend, the adrenalin would lift him up to compete. 

"But after the races, I was really, really tired. After the official test [in France] where I drove for one day, I flew straight home to hospital – I was pretty sick for a while." 

“We had to start thinking about somebody else coming in to take my place in the team. If this carried on, I knew myself that I couldn’t do it. This was not a good time for me."

Despite the health challenges, Petter continued racing in 2017, but has had a challenging 2018 season and says that after the Swedish round he has begun to feel better.  

“After the race in Sweden, things changed and I started to feel better. And, since then, things have been getting better. I can feel myself that I’m coming back now, the energy is coming again and everything is coming more normal again. We’re on top of this now."

“You know me, you know I have always been straight and honest with everything I have done and that’s why I wanted to talk about this. I understand you can look at me and things don’t look quite right. I haven’t been myself; I haven’t done so much in the media, on the television and with the fans and that hurts me. I have always loved to meet the people and talk to them and not being able to do that has been really hard."

The Norwegian is happy to feels like his normal self. “Believe me, I am coming back now," says Solberg. "There’s another month or so on this medication, then we have some more checks, but the doctors are happy with the way we’re going now and so am I." 

Soberg returns to Riga, having finished on the podium last weekend in Loheac. The Norwegian feels that he has a score to settle following his exit last year. “And now, to Riga and a track where I have a score to settle…”

Kristoffersson returns to the scene of his World RX glory last season.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
Defending FIA World Rallycross Champion, Johan Kristoffersson holds fond memories after claiming his maiden title at the 2017 Neste World RX of Latvia

The Swede's incredible ability has seen him claim seven wins from eight rounds of the championship [in 2018], with four remaining. He also holds a healthy 59 point lead to his nearest rival, Andreas Bakkerud. 

Kristoffersson reflects on his first FIA World Championship title, and looks forward to return to the scene of his title victory. 

"It’s not every day you win the FIA World Rallycross Championship and I’ll never forget that Sunday afternoon in Riga last year," said Kristoffersson"That memory has made me look forward to this race a bit more; it was such a special moment and being back in the same paddock again, it will bring it all back."

Despite his fond memories of Latvia [in 2017], the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver remains focused on the remaining rounds of the championship, and knows that despite the championship lead, his job is not finished yet.

“Once I get in the car and pull the helmet on then thoughts from last year will be forgotten. It’s all about the next corner and the next race," says Kristoffersson. "I have a job to do this weekend; the championship is looking good, but nothing is done yet. And, of course, what’s really important is that Petter and I both run well and score good points for the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team."

Kristoffersson looks forward to the Latvian round of the World RX championship, and admits that the team have an understanding of the ideal set-up for the ninth round of the championship, after the team tested in Riga earlier this year.

“We did our mid-season testing there, so we have some good knowledge of the circuit and the sort of set-up we need for a high-grip track like this one. I think we go with some confidence after a positive result last time out in France.”  

Friday 7 September 2018

Kristoffersson claims unexpected victory at the World RX of France.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
Johan Kristoffersson equaled his 2017 record for the number of wins in a FIA World Rallycross Championship season. The Swede claimed his seventh win of the season at the World RX of France in Loheac. 

The 2017 World RX champion, may have been the fastest through the qualifying rounds, but did not have it easy heading into the semi-final. The Swede took second place and would have to start the final on the second row of the grid. 

After lap one, in the final it seemed to be pretty much sealed that Kristoffersson would not claim another victory and Andreas Bakkerud, would become the third winner of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, but after the EKS Audi Sport drivers peeled off for their joker laps. Kristoffersson upped his pace and was able to come out ahead of the EKS drivers. 

“This was an incredible result, one we all worked so hard for," said Kristoffersson. "But, I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure it was coming when we went to the last lap in the final – I didn’t know what was going to happen."

Kristoffersson lined up in pole position for the first semi-final, but had a poor start seeing Ekstrὄm [EKS Audi Sport] benefiting with a great start. The Swede saved his tyres for the final.

“My semi-final was OK, but the launch off the line wasn’t so super-good. I had saved my tyres for the final, but then I was a little bit worried because if you are in the middle of the pack then you can’t always use that advantage with the tyre," said Kristoffersson. 

The Swede took his joker lap after teammate Petter Solberg, and emerged ahead. Then the two PSRX Volkswagen drivers played a waiting game. 

“Then me and Petter we just waited. Will they go this time? I didn’t know, I just didn’t know who was going when. I was behind Timmy [Hansen] and thinking: “Will he go? Is he going?” And, you know, you are trying to be ready for him to turn sharp to the right to take the joker," Kristoffersson explains. "A couple of times he made the car in the position that he’s going to turn, but then didn’t. You can’t really commit to the corner completely in case he turns to joker and you will hit him. So many laps, I was losing time like this."

“But then they went. My spotter (father Tommy Kristoffersson) was shouting at me: “Go, go, go!” I went like crazy, pushed so hard and we did it."

The Swede leaves Loheac with a 59 points lead to move well clear of nearest rival Andreas Bakkerud in the drivers' standings.

“Incredible. Like I said, I want to thank the team and Petter, at times I didn’t think this one was possible and that makes this result more special."

Despite his commanding lead in the championship, the Swede remains focused on the job at hand. “For the seven wins in a season and equaling the record, sure that’s nice – but the job isn’t finished yet.”

On the limit Solberg happy with podium finish in France.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
The 2018 World RX of France started off well for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver Petter Solberg, who had finished third fastest in the opening qualifying round and ended the first day in fourth place overall.

Solberg did not have the easiest of Sunday's where he ended Q3 in nine place overall, but fought back in Q4 to claim the second fastest time behind his teammate. The Norwegian went on to claim a podium finish after starting on the last row of the grid (in the final). 

“I am very happy for this result. I really wanted to win here, but this was a tough race weekend. The other cars had a lot of pace and it wasn’t easy for us out there," said Solberg. "Some of the qualifying was not so nice, a bit of traffic coming and it was a bit frustrating at times, but you have to stay calm, stick with the plan and come to the semi-finals and the final."

The PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver started on the front row of the grid alongside Bakkerud [EKS Audi Sport] and ended semi-final 2 in third place, securing a position in the final. “The semi wasn’t so good, but everything is possible in the last race," the Norwegian said.

"There was lot of movement from the cars ahead of me in the second corner of the final, I was looking to find a chance, but in the end the joker was the right decision," Solberg explained. "I got in there and pushed like hell, when Johan came out of his joker, we were so close."

It was only a matter of time until the three cars ahead, would move off to take the joker lap, and this would be Solberg's only opportunity to gain ground. 

"We were just waiting to see what would they do. When the chance came, we were ready," says Solberg. "I was absolutely on the limit in those last four corners when the top three went to the joker." 

"To make two cars to the podium is a fantastic result for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden and the Polo R Supercar."

Thursday 6 September 2018

Gumtree to title sponsor the World RX of SA for the second year running.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
Gumtree, South Africa’s most popular classified site, is pleased to announce that for the second year running it will title sponsor the FIA World Rallycross Championship event to be held in Cape Town on 24-25 November at the Killarney International Raceway, and tickets are now officially open to the public and can be purchased at TicketPro.

Following a hugely successful inaugural event in 2017 that attracted more than 27,000 people, the 2018 Gumtree World RX of South Africa again has the honour of concluding the World RX season in what promises to be another action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled weekend of high octane world championship motor sport.

“We are incredibly proud to once again be the headline sponsor for this energetic event,” enthuses Claire Cobbledick, General Manager of Gumtree. “Last year’s event was nothing short of thrilling for everyone involved. The electric vibe on the day and the excellent feedback we received post-event meant we didn’t have to think twice about getting involved again. Gumtree is passionate about all things auto. As one of the largest automotive classifieds sites in the country, this sponsorship is a natural fit for us.”

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
Gumtree has more than 1.9 million visitors browsing for cars every single month, with over 80 000 vehicles listed at any given moment. It’s the go-to platform for thousands of dealerships, brokers and private sellers, and the first site customers think of when they want to be spoilt for choice. The company continues to prove its commitment to the automotive industry by investing in events like the Gumtree Pre-Owned Car Awards, a series of Digital Dealer Road Shows and the Gumtree Women in Autos Conference. The Gumtree World RX of South Africa event is especially relevant because the City of Cape Town is the company’s home base.

With excitement building ahead of the much-anticipated event, World RX Managing Director for IMG Paul Bellamy, says the extended partnership is a vital one. “Because South Africa is such an important territory for us, it’s essential that our sponsor buys into and shares our vision,” he explains. Gumtree is committed to making this event a roaring success. We saw it last year, we’ve seen it in their everyday auto business, and we’ll undoubtedly witness it many more times as we take this spectacular motorsport into the future.”

Once more World RX’s superstars will be hunting victory in Cape Town with defending champion Johan Kristoffersson and motor sport legends Sebastien Loeb, Petter Solberg and Mattias Ekstrom headlining an entry list brimming with rallycross talent.

It’s quite understandable why this event is so keenly awaited. Cape Town in the summer, a weekend packed with racing thrills and spills, a wealth of entertainment options and a world-class rallycross venue combines to ensure the Gumtree World RX of South Africa will be off the charts!

So don’t miss out! Tickets can be purchased for R750.00 for the weekend at TicketPro (

World Rallycross SA – Gumtree World RX of South Africa

Killarney International Raceway

Saturday, 24th November 2018 – Sunday 25th November 2018

Tickets: R220 – R750

Hospitality tickets from R2500


For more information go to:



Wednesday 5 September 2018

Peugeot Total faced a challenging outing at home round in France.

PHOTO CREDIT: Peugeot Sport
Team Peugeot Total were unable to secure their desired result on home territory in France, with a 5th and 6th place finish for Timmy Hansen and Sébastien Loeb respectively in the final at Loheac, but nonetheless all 3 drivers showed considerable fighting spirit and pace through the weekend. 

Only a series of racing incidents compromised their opportunities to achieve a better result – but this is all part of the fast paced and closely-matched sport of rallycross. 

Timmy Hansen is currently fourth in the drivers' standings, and believes that the team have all the pieces, but its just a matter of putting it together: "The start procedure, chassis and engine of the Peugeot 208 WRX are already great.”

The Swede expected a stronger result in Loheac, but in the end he was the best placed Team Peugeot Total driver. "I hoped to get a better result for everyone than 5th: it’s not bad but we were definitely aiming higher. I think we did everything we could in the final, but 5th was the most we could achieve," said Hansen. "We have to be happy because we did our job the best we could under the circumstances, but we also have to go back and do our homework to improve for the future."

Timmy Hansen's teammate, Sébastien Loeb rues his start line positions at the French round of the World RX championship. "With the position that I had on the start line in each race this weekend, it was always going to be difficult and that proved to be the case," said Loeb. 

"We ended up with 6th in the end, which is actually not too bad all things considered because at one point we were 12th after qualifying," he adds. "It’s not the result we wanted but we have to accept it for what it is and move on."

The team’s Junior, Kevin Hansen, also showed plenty of speed, going as far as the semi-final.

“It was a strong weekend: we struggled a little bit during practice, but we came back really well," Hansen explained. "We had some great races and showed really good pace, but I couldn’t quite keep it all the way to the end."

The young Swede believes that he achieved the maximum on Sunday at the World RX of France. "I think to be just outside the final though, with all the factory cars there, was the maximum we could do," said Hansen. "So I was happy with my performance for that reason but of course we still wanted to be in the final! I know I’m still young and we still have plenty to learn." 

Tuesday 4 September 2018

GRX Taneco fails to achieve their goal at the World RX of France.

GRX Taneco failed to achieve their goal of securing a place in the final at the World RX of France. Despite missing the main goal, the team achieved a good result, placing both cars in the semi-final in a field of 25 Supercars on one of the championship’s most technical circuits. 

Grönholm had a hard time from the warm-up on Sunday, failing to achieve any pace. The Finnish driver only managed to finish eleventh in Q3, but things got no better in Q4 and he ended up thirteenth. In P9 overall after Q4, he qualified for the semi-final but had to be happy with the third line on the grid. He did his best to weave his way to the front, but to no avail. 

“I don’t understand why I didn’t get the speed we had yesterday [Saturday]. My settings were maybe not right but one thing is for sure, I didn’t feel confident in the car and that was starkly evident in the time sheets," Grönholm explained. "I threw myself into the semi-finals. I intended to claw back a few places before my joker lap but I was already last after the first few corners."

Niclas Grönholm gained a place in the drivers' championship and now lies seventh, but after a tough weekend, he aims to improve ahead of the next round. "We’ve got a lot of work to do before the next round. We need to assess this weekend’s mistakes to come back stronger in Latvia.”  

Grönholm's teammate, Timur Timerzyanov was back on form and secured a season best despite the sweltering heat in France. Second in Q2, the Russian clocked the fifth-best time of the session and went on to take sixth place in Q4. His efforts paid off and he moved up from 12th to eighth place overall. However, he failed to reap the benefit of starting the semi-final from the second row of the grid.    

“It was a great day and we showed good top speed. We did our very best in a hotly-disputed race," said Timerzyanov. "I enjoyed myself although I am disappointed with my semi-final but I gave it my all."

The Russian achieved a season-best with the fifth and sixth top times in Sunday’s qualifiers. "I’m looking forward to the next round and to feeling good in the car." 

EKS Audi Sport narrowly misses out on victory in Lohéac.

EKS Audi Sport were narrowly beaten to victory at round eight of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the Lohéac circuit. Andreas Bakkerud and Mattias Ekström just barely missed out scoring victory and a 1-2 finish for EKS Audi Sport, but regained second place in the teams’ standings.

Mattias Ekström and his teammate, Andreas Bakkerud, both performed very well throughout the race weekend, setting strong lap times and outstanding starts: On the extremely fast track, they both made it into the semi-finals and finished the intermediate classification in second and third overall. 

First, Mattias Ekström won his semi-final in commanding style and in the second heat, Andreas Bakkerud followed suit with a second triumph.

Heading into the race weekend in France, Audi announced their official withdrawal of factory support for EKS Audi Sport after two-years

EKS Audi Sport responded positively by locking out the front row in the final. "Huge thanks to EKS for putting both of the cars on pole position in the final," said Bakkerud. "All the volunteers here in Lohéac for doing a great job, all of our partners. We want to come back next year."

Both Audi drivers started to the final from the front row. Andreas Bakkerud took the lead in front of Ekström. The Audi drivers defended their top two positions up until the final lap. However, on returning from the Joker lap, Bakkerud had to get in line between Johan Kristoffersson and Petter Solberg and missed victory by a mere 0.34 seconds. 

“I’m disappointed about us having missed a one-two result by such a narrow margin, but am taking a lot of positives home from France,” said Bakkerud. “We had good results in the preliminary races, managed to win our semi-finals and now I’m in second place of the drivers’ standings.” 

Mattias Ekström took fourth place. In the teams’ classification, following the race in France, EKS Audi Sport advanced to second place behind Volkswagen.

“We had competitive cars and started from the front row, but in the end our pace wasn’t quite enough to take victory home," said Ekström. "Now we’ve got our second place in the teams’ classification back and are going to fight even more intensively for victory in the last four rounds.

Monday 3 September 2018

REPORT: Kristoffersson claims victory in Loheac thriller.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
Round eight of the FIA World Rallycross Championship saw 80,000 fans witnessing an action packed final on Sunday, where PSRX Volkswagen Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson claimed his seventh victory of the season.

It was a double-podium for the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team as Kristoffersson took his joker lap on the second lap of the final and capitalized on his good pace to take the lead in the closing stages to claim victory in his Volkswagen Polo R. He was joined on the podium by his teammate Petter Solberg in third.

“It was a really tough weekend. We were hoping to have made some progress before the weekend on a high grip track which Loheac is. We had a good tyre strategy but unfortunately I lost the start in the semi-final against Mattias (Ekstrom),” explains Kristoffersson. “Until then it was really tough during the whole weekend. I stalled in Q2 and had to fight from the back, and had a great fight with Liam (Doran) in Q1. Only Q4 was really a clean run for me. In the final I knew I had really good tyres, I took the joker in the right moment and from there on it was very tricky to know when Timmy (Hansen) was going to joker. I knew it was going to be very, very tight (with leader Bakkerud). I really pushed everything in turn five on the last lap and it was just enough to come in front of Andreas (Bakkerud). I’m really happy to have Petter on the podium as well, this is really for the team, they have been working very hard.”

EKS Audi Sport’s Andreas Bakkerud started the final on pole position and claimed the Monster Energy Super Charge Award for having the fastest reaction time at the start in his Audi S1.

Bakkerud and Mattias Ekstrom shared the front row for EKS Audi Sport after both drivers won the two semi-finals, Bakkerud then taking the lead and heading his team mate until the pair took their joker laps on lap six and re-joined in second and fourth.

Bakkerud crossed the finish line 0.34 seconds behind Kristoffersson. “I’m disappointed about us having missed a one-two result by such a narrow margin, but am taking a lot of positives home from France,” said Bakkerud. “We had good results in the preliminary races, managed to win our semi-finals and now I’m in second place of the drivers’ standings.” 

Bakkerud’s second place finish moves him up to second in the World RX Drivers’ Championship as Solberg’s third place finish lifted the two-time World RX Drivers’ Champion to third. Solberg and Kristoffersson’s results extended PSRX Volkswagen Sweden’s advantage in the World RX Teams’ Championship standings.

Solberg was delighted with a double-podium for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden. “I’m very pleased, I think for the viewers and spectators there’s been some incredible fights here and nothing really crazy at all. It’s the most proper driving I’ve seen for a long time,” said Solberg. “It’s been a little bit of a tough weekend but we came to the final, tried to be neat and clean. I had good speed after I took the joker, it was very close with Johan out of the joker. We were pushing on, both of us, and at the end of the day Bakkerud came in between, but I’m very pleased.”

Team Peugeot Total’s Timmy Hansen and Sebastien Loeb finished the final fifth and sixth in front of the enthusiastic French crowd.

Kevin Hansen, Team Peugeot Total independent entry and Olsbergs MSE’s Kevin Eriksson finished fourth in the semi-finals as both GC Kompetition drivers, Guerlain Chicherit and Liam Doran made the semi-finals and finished fifth and sixth. Both GRX Taneco drivers, Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov also made the top 12 and finished sixth and fifth in semi-final’s one and two respectively.

Team STARD’s Janis Baumanis was first reserve for the semi-finals in 13th, ahead of MJP Racing Team Austria wilds cards, Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen and Andrew Jordan.

Sunday 2 September 2018

2018 Italian GP: Post-Race Press Conference.


1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)
3 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)


(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Congratulations Lewis, we can see what that means to the team, we can hear it in your voice, that has to be one of your craziest races ever, to beat two Ferraris, outrace them on home soil here at Monza.

Lewis HAMILTON: Well, firstly I want to give it up to Ferrari who put up a great challenge this weekend. They really did an amazing job and they’ve really give us such a great fight. Secondly, I just want to say a huge thank you to these guys and everyone back home, because without their support, without their continued efforts this wouldn’t be possible today, their continued belief. Also, here there was a lot of negativity, as there is when you’re against an opposing team, and I could see so many British flags out there, they know who they are. I was pointing them out and they inspired me so much for this race and that’s what I was driving for. In future, the negativity is really a positive thing for me because I harness it and turn it from negative to positive. But, as I said, a big thank you to Valtteri for helping us as well.

Q: Yeah, we could hear it in your voice even when you were doing the parade lap. You were happy with your starts, you got the job done in the beginning. You’re not going to go down without a fight. They’ve got a strong package but you’re going to fight it all the way.

LH: Absolutely. We never give up.

Q: Well done, mate. Kimi, you had the weight of the Italians on your side, the weight of Ferrari after Sebastian went out but the package just wasn’t quite quick enough to beat Lewis was it?

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: I think it was quick enough but unfortunately our rear tyres went and it was a losing battle since that point. I tried but it was impossible in the end unfortunately. It’s far from ideal but this is what we got today and we did our maximum.

Q: You can take the positives from the weekend can’t you? First pole position in a long time and it shows that the fight is going to go all the way to try to beat this guy and try and help Sebastian?

KR: Yeah, I mean, for sure we tried, but if you look at the rear tyres, they gave up before the race ended but at least we take the second place and we keep fighting.

Q: Great, all the best. Valtteri, a very strong fight with Max Verstappen down there, how did you see it?

Valtteri BOTTAS: I was really trying to do everything I could to get to the podium. First, my mission was to try to hold up Kimi for a while, but then I was trying to end up on the podium. It was hard racing, sometimes not quite as fair as I was hoping for, so he got a penalty so then I’m on the podium.

Q: Well, I’m sure you can say the atmosphere in this team is going to be electric tonight and you have to celebrate it, because it was a team effort and you played a big part in that, you held Räikkönen up for a little while and got Lewis on top of him?

VB: Yeah, I think as a team we take this result. We got more points than Ferrari in their home. Obviously they were quicker yesterday in the qualifying, so we take it but hopefully we can be better next time.


Q: (Frédéric Ferret – l’Equipe) A question to Kimi. Would you have pitted later would you have been blistering? And a question for Lewis: was it planned to pit later than the 21st lap? A question to both of you about pitting.

KR: Afterwards you can always fine-tune things, but it’s too late afterwards. I don’t think we did anything wrong. We just ran out of tyres in the end, simple as that. I don’t know. I mean, there’s no point to start thinking right now. This is what we got. Leave it and go forward.


LH: The question was about was it the right time to pit?

We saw your mechanics out in the pit lane a few laps before you came in. Was the plan always to pit when you did.

LH: No, the strategy was the pit a lot earlier than that, but as you go through the race… As I said, the communication was really great. I was pointing out that the tyres, I still had them in good nick. I could see that Kimi was struggling a little bit and I was able to advance and keep the gap around a second. I think it was eight tenths of 0.9s or something like that I was maintaining, and we just kept extending and extending. I was a little bit surprised that we didn’t stop before Kimi. I thought we would have done the undercut. Then Kimi came in and I was able to pick up pace. My next few laps were really quite strong and I was hoping to overcut. I was trying to make sure that I pushed and extended and made sure that I was then able to pit. But straight away he came back into my window quite quickly because of the big tyre difference, so then I had to extend. So we just tried to keep it going as long as possible and even when they pulled me in I was still a little bit surprised because the tyres were still good but he was catching Valtteri. I think it was an important and a very good decision made to pit at the time I did, so I could close the gap with them and have at least a few moments behind these guys. And then after that it’s all history.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Valtteri, obviously staying out long was one factor of your race, but another was the contact with Max in Turn 1. What did you think of him moving in the braking zone like that. And also his attitude after that, because he made it quite clear over the radio that he was willing to fight and defend aggressively from you on track even if it cost him a place to Vettel because of the time penalty?

VB: I think there was a couple of proper overtaking opportunities for me and the first one, I went inside and he just cut the chicane to stay ahead of me. The second time – I think there is a very clear rule that once you defend you choose your line and if another car is there you need to leave a car’s width and obviously he didn’t, I was there, so we touched and he got a penalty for that. I think it’s a very simple and clear rule, so he got a penalty for that.

Q: (Dániel Horváth–  Lewis, an epic fight with Kimi. Would you miss him from the grid if he won’t be with us next year? 

LH: Would I miss Kimi? I think it’s always a difficult question to say if you miss someone. I think the sport would naturally miss him, yeah. I made it no secret that before I even got to Formula One I was always playing… when I was playing the Playstation I was always Kimi in the McLaren, imagining that was me. And then I remember the first car at McLaren which was Kimi’s set-up and the suspension that he would use, which was… I remember it like it was yesterday. It was an amazing experience and it was cool because I think our driving style was kinda similar, which meant that I ended up being quite comfortable with the set-up that he used back then. So, y’know, he’s had an incredible career and it’s been a real honour to race against a great Finn such as him – but he looks like he’s just ice-cold. He’s just got plenty of years left in him. He’s not seeming to age. I don’t know what it is about Finnish people. I think it’s the sauna and the ice thing. Yeah.

Q: (Zsolt Godina – Kimi, you said on the podium that ‘maybe next time.’ do you perhaps have any new information regarding the future? Do you have more options in F1 for next year other than Ferrari?

KR: There’s always going to be options. In life generally. It depends on what you want to do. It depends on a lot of things. So, we’ll see in the future what will happen and that’s about it.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Lewis, how would you rate the overtaking manoeuvre on Kimi? Was it an easy one or did you need a lot of Finnish sisu?

LH: Sisu? Is that fighting spirit? Did I need a lot of it. Well, naturally I find myself between the Finnish drivers quite a lot but, no, I mean the battle was awesome. The restart was obviously really good and then, straight after that, Kimi getting back past me, was… whilst it’s never good losing a position, it was a great move from him. I left him room, etc., and I was just hopeful that later on I would have the opportunity to continue the fight. And, as I said, I was still between 1.1-1.3s behind most of the time. So, I was definitely hopeful of another opportunity at some stage – but it isn’t easy to get close, at all – but these cars are definitely getting better. I do hope that next year’s cars are better than this in terms of being able to follow. The last manoeuvre he defended on the outside. He moved to the right and then I thought a little bit too the left but it didn’t cause me any problems and then it wsa just about late braking into Turn One and trying to… it was very, very close. Kimi was very, very fair. Gave me space. It was tooth and nail, whatever you call it, as racing should be.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Congratulations Lewis. Does this feel like one of the greatest performances of your career, given that it’s in Ferrari’s homeland and the passing moves that you’ve already mentioned?

LH: I think it’s always very difficult to compare past performances. I always tell you that I don’t really have the greatest of memories – but under the sheer pressure that we are under I definitely will consider it to be quite far up there. And obviously to do it on Ferrari’s home turf as well, with such a difficult crowd and so much pressure on the team with the performance that they have, to really be able to pull a little bit more out of the bag, and really make it stick… but I generally think that this year I’ve been quite consistent in my delivery. I really been happy with what I’ve been able to extract from the car and again, just incredibly grateful and proud of the team for continuing to keep their faith in me, and keep pushing as they are. Days like this, it’s going to be amazing when I go back and see my guys in the garage. We’ll have a team photo to celebrate it probably. And that is a very, very proud moment, to be a part of that. So many people in these teams now, it’s incredible – and there’s not one single person – component – that’s more important than another. It’s been great teamwork and effort.

Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for Lewis. Lewis, Sebastian in his team radio said that your move in the second chicane was silly. What is your answer?

LH: That it worked! I think it was a racing move. It’s pretty much the same move that Kimi did to me. I don’t really know what to say about that. It was a racing manoeuvre, it’s what we’re supposed to do out there. We’re supposed to be racing. I left him space. I was still on track, so… but I’m sure it’s a comment that was done in the heat of the moemtn. And it’s never a great feeling when you spin and you’re facing the other cars coming the other way. And then you get back up and you start from the back and you have to come through. So, I don’t take anything from it. I know how it is to be in that emotion. I’m sure he really didn’t mean too much by it.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – To Kimi and then Lewis. Kimi, Lewis’ victory today was a real team victory. Did you receive, you and Sebastian, any orientation before the start? You, for example, you locked the wheels at the wheels at the first chicane after the start, which could make a completely different story of the grand prix. And Lewis, you had incredible speed in the straight in this race. The reason is the new spec of the power unit you use in Spa or maybe the aero set-up you choose for Monza.

KR: No, I think we have very clear rules. I don’t see how my front locking changed the race. Unfortunately, we lock front tyres sometimes under braking and that’s what happened. Obviously always difficult after the start when they’re not exactly where they should be. These things happen. It wasn’t a big deal and I got out of it – so I don’t see how it changed the race somehow.

(Inaudible question)

KR: Like I said, we know what we can do, and what not.

Lewis – your thoughts on the straight line speed.

LH: Well, there’s a big difference. There’s a big tow-effect here. Naturally Kimi was out in front on his own. So he’s got a disadvantage in the fact that he’s driving into clean air and I’m in the dirty air and he’s pulling me along. So, that was really it, basically. You saw in qualifying, everyone’s using the tow. It’s worth a lot of time. It’s up to three-tenths, or something, on each straight. Something like that. And then, it was just about being able to follow through the corners and positioning your car so you can still get a good exit – because the car in front always gets max downforce. Once I got past Kimi, it’s night-and-day different how it handles through the corners – because I’ve got clean air in front of me, as opposed to being behind, and you’re fighting the dirty air and different patches of air hits you, air pockets you hit down the straight where the car speeds up and slows down, speeds up, and I guess that’s the turbulence that you’re facing. So, that was really it. But the engine was great today, for sure. They brought an engine upgrade, as did we, but they were quite similar steps, I would say, coming into Spa and then here.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, have you ever bigger support as you got today when leading for Ferrari?

KR: I have to say… obviously you cannot hear the crowd. In the end, when we get our trophies, you can see how many people (there are). You see at the end, when you look down the main straight, there’s a lot of support from the tifosi. Unfortunately we didn’t get the maximum, the best result today for all of us but this is how it goes and I’m sure they were cheering as much as we were trying. It was very nice to see.

Q: (Francesca Galbiati – Quattroruote) Lewis, five victories for you here in Monza, like Schumacher. What’s your feeling about that?

LH: That’s cool. As I said, I have such a bad memory I didn’t even realise that I’d had that many here. It feels like the first, if I’m really honest, being the way the race went, it was one of the most exciting of victories that I’ve had, that I can remember. And as I was saying, it’s such a great place to win but to know that I’m up there with Michael… it is always a real privilege and an honour to be mentioned in the same sentence as a great like him, someone I watched and supported as a youngster growing up.

Q: (Stefan Burgstaller - Kronen Zeitung) Lewis, was this is a victory for Niki Lauda?

LH: Was the victory for Niki Lauda? The victory was for the whole team, really. And I know Niki… I’ve been in touch with Niki’s wife quite often and she sends me updates all the time. He’s still fighting with his fighting spirit and the messages that I get are really encouraging. He’s here with us. Honestly, I hadn’t thought of dedicating it to anyone in particular but there is someone that I have in mind but I’d rather not mention it. I’ll get to tell the family afterwards.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Booing on the podium, is that acceptable at Formula One races? We see it at football matches but is it OK for F1 fans to boo you on the podium?

VB: I think every fan has their own right to tell their opinion for different drivers, different teams. Everyone can say whatever they like, they can support whoever they like. For sure they can do it. Of course, when you get the boos, it’s not as nice as someone shouting your name but as Lewis mentioned, for sports people who have the right mindset, we can turn some negative experiences into strengths, so in the end, if you handle it right, you can really use that as a source of energy.

LH: I think it’s acceptable. It’s done in every sport. If I’m really honest, I don’t understand it because I’ve never… I’ve been to football games, I’ve been to NFL games, I’ve been to basketball games and rugby games. I’ve never booed an opposing team even if it was against my team. And none of my friends do either so I don’t get the psyche of it. It happens in all sports. It definitely happens in football and probably here more than I’ve noticed in others but it is the way it is. For me, as Valtteri says, it is easy in the arena that we’re in, it is very very easy to allow it to get to you, to allow it to have an impact on your life and have you think about it, all these different things. But it is also quite easy to harness it and use it and that gave me so much motivation today. I welcome it. If they want to continue to do it, that just empowers me.

Q: Does it offend you?

LH: It doesn’t offend me, no. No. There’s nothing to get offended by. I don’t really think too much about it. I just keep smiling. I know I’ve got those individuals who are out there who travel the world to support me. I know they’re there. Really really proud of them, because obviously when you’re in a big crowd, when you’re in a big sea of red and there’s the booing and then there’s you with the one flag which there is out there, you know you notice there’s one guy standing there with a flag or there’s a kid waving it and you can imagine being surrounded by that, feeling the heat on him, because all eyes are on him or her, maybe. I really just appreciate that and respect it so much, so I really really do try like on the podium and on the parade lap and when I was driving round, I really try to point out… it’s hard to point to a big crowd and them know that you’re pointing at them but I try to point out and know that I acknowledge them and appreciate them.

KR: I think everybody as the right to do what they feel like but I don’t think it’s very nice. I don’t think it should happen but obviously it’s not my decision. It happens and that’s how life is but it’s not very nice.

Saturday 1 September 2018

2018 Italian GP: FIA Post-Qualifying Press Conference

1 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)
2 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)
3 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Kimi, we’ve just witnessed history, the fastest ever lap Formula 1 of Monza. How does it feel to get Ferrari a front-row lock-out?

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Obviously it’s great for tomorrow, but it’s only half the job done and I think it couldn't be a better place to be on pole position. It’s our home grand prix, it’s in front of all the tifosi, so hopefully tomorrow everything goes smoothly and we end up in the same positions.

Q: Well, you’ve given these guys something to cheer about. Ultimately, they are the strong point Ferrari, aren’t they?

KR: They are, always. It doesn’t matter where we go around the world, but obviously here at our home grand prix it’s full of great tifosi. So hopefully tomorrow is as good as today.

Q: Well all the best for that. Sebastian, second best today, but I don’t think the race is lost and these guys will be supporting you tomorrow?

Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, it’s unbelievable to see the amount of support around the track, so grazie a tutti. It’s a good result for the team. Not entirely happy with my last run, but yeah, I think Kimi was just a little bit too fast in the end.

Q: We heard you on the radio saying ‘we’ll discuss it after’. Do you think that slipstream got off you made the difference?

SV: It is always like this in Monza and I think for him it was in a sweet spot. I think my last run was OK. My lap wasn’t very good, so yeah, I think we can have a look but for now it’s good to have both cars on the front row.

Q: Well, have fun tomorrow. Lewis, you almost did it. An extraordinary lap at the beginning of the session but the Ferraris are showing to be very strong?

Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, congratulations to Ferrari, they did a solid job today. We have it everything we could. It’s obviously incredibly close between us but they’ve had the upper hand all weekend. We gave it everything we could today and we’ll give more tomorrow.

Q: How hard are you working at the moment, Lewis, to make the difference and how hard are you going to work tonight to try to beat them tomorrow?

LH: Always… everyone in the team is working as hard as they can to make the difference. It’s incredibly close, as I said, as you can see, which is great for the sport. It’s great to see so many fans here, regardless if they’re all Ferrari fans, it’s still great.


Q: Kimi, it all came together for you at the end in Q3. Just talk us through that final lap and what it feels like to be back on top here at Monza, of all places?

KR: If you need to choose, for our team it’s probably the best place to taker the pole position. Obviously we’ve been close a few times but it never really went right in the end. It’s been a bit tricky, the second chicane, the whole day. The last run was pretty decent, let’s put it this way, enough for pole position. Obviously there were a lot of games – who is going first, getting tows and this and that. But in the end, there was a train of cars and that’s enough. The car’s been working well; obviously conditions have been a little tricky but nevertheless I don’t think we’ve changed the car at all since the first runs really. It all seems to be running pretty smoothly so far, so hopefully tomorrow it’s a similar situation.

Q: Kimi, you got quite a reception on your slow down lap as well?

KR: I don’t hear them. Obviously we know that we have a lot of fans, a lot of tifosi here, so I think being one and two is great but like I said it’s only half job done, so tomorrow is another important part, so hopefully we can give them another great result.

Q: Sebastian, coming to you, it was so close at the top and in the end you just missed out. Was it at the second chicane? Can you just talk us through what happened at the end there?
SV: Yeah, my last lap I wasn’t happy with it and I think it was the only chance I had to get a shot at pole. So, well done to Kimi. I think he had a very, very good lap, and did a great job, so it’s great to have the cars in one and two.

Q: And Sebastian, can we just get your thoughts on the emotions. This is Ferrari’s 60th front row lock-out, and to do it here at Monza, were you feeling the passion of the tifosi as well?

SV: Every time you go out you see them go crazy, whether it’s practice or now in qualifying. That’s very nice to see. Obviously, I’m not entirely happy with the end of my qualifying but probably that’s the emotion that is dominating now – but I think it’s great. It’s unbelievable before qualifying to see the flags. Around the main straight, the banners they put up and the huge Ferrari logo. I think, yeah, it says ‘passion’ on the banner and I think that’s exactly what the people have. A lot of joy, the whole weekend, screaming us forward. And they’re pushing us. So, it’s great to get the job done and get the cars on the front row.

Q: Lewis, just a tenth and a half from the man on your right. What are your thoughts after that qualifying session?

LH: It was a fantastic qualifying session. Congratulations to Kimi. They knew that had the pace this weekend. It was going to take something quite special with the lap to catch them but it’s generally been that kind of distance between them all weekend. Of course, we were hopeful that we might be able to give them a run for their money which, obviously the first qualifying lap was pretty good – but the second one was… it was still good but it could always be better. It was just amazing how intense it was – and that’s how racing should be. So, I really enjoyed it thoroughly, to be honest.


Q: Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Kimi, you mentioned the near-misses you’ve had in qualifying this year. How important was it to end that here and was it a relief in any way to get that monkey off your back?

KR: Not really. It’s not my first one. If this would be the first one then of course it’s different but we keep trying always and sometimes it works out, sometimes not. It’s not as easy as it probably looks on TV, looking on the screens. Yeah. Today, I think the whole weekend has been working pretty well with everything. The conditions have been changing a little bit but nevertheless I was close. After the practice, we knew that there was three cars, one of them was going to get it and today it was me. Happy about it but it doesn’t really change anything. Tomorrow is always the main job to done.

Q: (Christian Menath – Question for Seb. Can you talk us through that last lap? What exactly was not perfect? Was it the timing, that you didn’t get the perfect tow or was there a bit of a mistake at some point? What was it?

SV: No. To be honest it was not a tidy lap. I think the other laps were actually better, so… yeah… I lost a bit in the first chicane, the second chicane, the Lesmos, pretty much a bit everywhere. I think the last sector was OK but also not fantastic. It was just not a good lap and not good enough. Obviously lucky to get second instead of third but… yeah. Just not good enough.

Q: (Dániel Horváth –  Lewis, do you think you need to work harder than ever to beat the Ferraris this year – and does this close competition make you more motivated?

LH: Firstly, I am! Yes, is your answer to that. And the close competition I think is great. It’s great for the sport, it’s pushing us all, I’m sure within their team and with our team it’s pushing us to limits that we didn’t even know we could go to – so, that’s what the sport is about.

Q: (Joe van Burik – To follow up on that question to the Ferrari drivers. Exactly one year ago you seemed to be in a similar position looking at the championship standings. Are you confident you can keep up the momentum now going to the end of the season or has anything changed compared to last year?

KR: A lot of things have changed since a year ago but I think the aim is always the same. It doesn’t matter which team you are in, which year it is. Obviously, we want to win. It’s simple as that. What will happen at the end of the season and the end of the championship, nobody knows. We can only do our best as a team and, yeah, work as hard as we can. Is that enough? Time will tell. That’s the aim. I will not start guessing what will happen.

Sebastian, anything to add?

SV: No.

Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) To Sebastian. It sounded like your initial radio message after you crossed the line on your final lap, as it you thought you had got pole position – and then you were told it was P2, and said “Oh, we’ll speak after,” is there anything in particular you’re going to speak about. And, secondly, will there be any conversations about team orders before tomorrow’s race?

SV: No, I don’t think anything related to that. Clearly I wasn’t happy – but I don’t tell you why.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, it’s very difficult to tell from your emotions, but was that the greatest feeling you have ever had after qualifying? Putting Ferrari on pole?

KR: I think I have 17 times before a similar story. This is a special place, for sure, to get the pole position in our home Grand Prix, in front of all the fans. But it isn’t any different to the other ones, in many ways. It’s good today, hopefully tomorrow is another good day.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – Lewis, one tenth slower in qualifying, what can you imagine in race conditions?

LH: It’s pretty much the same. They’ve had the same pace… that gap has generally been the same over the sessions. The long run pace yesterday was very good but of course we’re hopeful that we’ve improved the car overnight, last night, so maybe in the long runs we’ll be better tomorrow. We shall see.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) To the Ferrari drivers: Sebastian, why weren’t you in a position to get a tow from Kimi, rather than the other way around? What did you mean by ‘we’ll talk about it later’? And is Kimi going to be allowed to win tomorrow?

SV: Well, first question, because we have an order that changes every weekend and this weekend it was Kimi to go second. Simple. Second question? I don’t tell you. That’s the same question as I had before. Sorry. And the third one was ‘is Kimi allowed to win’? Well, if he’s starting from pole, I guess he’s allowed to win. It’s a long race. Obviously he wants to win, I want to win. Hopefully one of us will win.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Lewis, the gap between you and Valtteri has been pretty big all weekend and it was the same in qualifying. So when you’re that close to the Ferraris, how hard are you having to work in the car? Is the car working well here or are you having to basically put it to the very edge?

LH: I am putting it to the edge but of course the car’s actually been feeling really good this weekend. Most of our time is lost on the straights, if not all our time, generally. I can’t really explain why that is but there are areas that we lose on the straights and that has been different, but we’ve all been in tows during that sessions so I will have to look at the lap. Sebastian was just behind me so he had a good tow from me. I had a good tow from Valtteri and it obviously cascaded down. Here the tow effect is huge for everyone and getting the gap right is important. But at the end of the day Kimi did the job. I don’t think I could have gone any quicker. I’m sure you can always look at the data and see there’s a little bit more but of course I’m pushing the car as hard as I can and I’m really happy with the performance, really, this weekend. We just need that little bit more.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) To the Ferrari drivers, having to fight your teammate at the first corner, does it change your mindset compared to the Mercedes?

SV: Yeah, I guess, a little bit. Obviously you are still always trying to get out ahead, no matter who you’re racing but for sure you try to avoid contact but then again, as I said, you try to avoid that anyway. It’s not like there’s another car and you say yeah, I’m happy to make contact. With our cars you can’t really afford to touch or be touched.

KR: No different than any other race really. Obviously we know, as a team, we can race but we obviously need to be careful with each other but I don’t see how it changes to anybody. I don’t think anybody will purposely take a stupid amount of risk to damage somebody else’s car and your’s at the same time. Same story.